Composer Talk – 2, Lyrics

The lyric personifies the soul in the song. The composition gets the complete shape from the lyrics. A good lyric has the capacity to inspire composers to create outstanding melody lines. There are many examples we can quote in film song.

But often composers don’t see lyrics eye to an eye. This is not a big sin. The reason being they tend to concentrate more on their musical composition. After all the music in the composition is the frame work that is going drive everything, hence in general these days lyrics are treated number 2 in a composition. Let me discuss on the tune for lyrics or lyrics for a tune issue.

Melody First: In my opinion a writer is asked to restrict himself by this approach. He has a preset boundary for his thoughts. He is forced to fit the words as per the melody lines, there might be better words for him to work with, but he is denied the opportunity to use them. What is the difference between a jigsaw puzzle and a painting? , a writer is treated as a person who assembles a jig saw puzzle; fit the word for a given template. A person just needs an aptitude to complete a jigsaw, there is nothing called creativity when you assemble a jig saw. Having said this, there are talented writers who are very much capable of writing wonderful lyrics to a preset melody line. However, the bottom line for them is they are governed by a boundary; their thoughts are kept within this boundary.

Lyrics First: In my opinion, a music composer’s has a wider palette than a lyric writer; the composer’s palette is more flexible, meaning a composer in general has more choices of melody phrases than a writer. A natural composer will have the ability to create tunes for any kind of lyric. His or her melody will complement the emotion generated by the lyrics much better in this approach.
The lyric writer is not bound by the melody and meter boundaries. They get to choose different words and express their ideas more clearly. I would recommend for new composers to try hands on prewritten lyrics. It is a good exercise, at times a challenging job to get a good tune.

Most of my songs in my website were written by Udhaya . In the past, he was working only with my melodies. The reason being I have tons of composition in my shelf so I decided to use them all. However, of late, I have started to work with prewritten composition. The latest one “gramiya kadalan” was composed for pre written words. My best method would be to work together with the lyric writer, both of them need to sit and do it together. Composer can get melodies for various lines from writer on the spot. However time and social constraints will work against this.

Here is an interesing observation, Last weekend Sridhar and I were in a composing session and Sridhar told me THAT there is relationship between “ponal pogatum poda” and ”nandavathil oru andi” [my previous release.] lyrics. The pallavi for the song “ponal pogatum poda“ has been phrased out first using the words from “nandavathil oru andi”. Yes, I played and checked it and found this.

nadavanathil oru andi, avan!
[ponal pogatum poda, intha ]

nalaru mathamai.. kuyavanai vendi...
[bhoomiyil nilaiyai vaazhandhavan yarada ]

kondu vanthan oru thondi
[ponal pogatum poda]